Cubas war

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Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. knows talent when he sees it, so when he said yes to Alexandria filmmaker John Carters idea of a spine-tingling thriller about a paramilitarys exploits in Iraq, it was only natural that the movie be cast with extras drawn from a city which heavily tilts to the arts.

So on to the set they came.

Belle Haven financial services executive Rob Bartenstein arrived on the set in New Orleans wielding a handgun (Gooding is quicker to the draw, and takes him down in one shot), and Old Town mom Mandy Locke came with an acting prowess that might have made a more experienced actress blush with envy.

On Saturday night at the American Film Institute theater in Silver Spring, Mount Vernon film director John Carter screened his new political drama, The Way of War, starring Gooding as a paramilitary operative who uncovers secrets about his mission in Iraq. War is a messy and confusing process that we will never fully understand, said Carter, addressing the basic message of the movie.

Its a familiar genre for Carter. He and his Alexandria-based production company, Capital City Productions, released their first film Fatwa in 2006 with similar themes of power and conspiracy. That movie too featured a name-brand actress in the leading role, Lauren Holly, best known for her 1994 role opposite Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, perhaps Carreys finest moment as a film comedian.

Carter said he is most proud of his Alexandria roots, and for being able to use local talent in the film. Alexandria is my home, and its my goal to bring mainstream Hollywood here to make more movies, he said.

to make more movies, he said. The Way of War features Alexandrians Locke and Bartenstein in small supporting roles. Mitch Kernus, also of Alexandria, composed the films music. I was drawn to the very powerful imagery and the conspiracy theories, Kernus said.

The movie also features Jonathan Kernus, best known for his performance as the father of a pregnant teen in the Oscar-winning Juno, and actor John Terry, known best for his supporting roles on the TV hit series Lost, 24 and ER.

Most agreed that working with Gooding and Carter were motivating forces in joining the project.

Gooding attended the screening and told The Alexandria Times that he was not shy about making political statements through his acting.

The heart of the matter is that we as filmmakers have to make statements, said the 40-year-old Gooding, whose seminal role was playing show me the money pro football running back Rod Tidwell in the 1996 hit, Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise.

There is a lot of frustration about the war. I have family members over there. I love them and believe in them.

When asked how he tackled the complexity of such a nuanced character, he said, I still dont know that I have. Im still figuring out what the message of the film means to me.

While The Way of War finishes up post-production, Capital Citys third feature film, Bastille Day, goes into production this summer.

The Way of War opens this fall in select theatres.

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